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The Township of Esquimalt is hoping to bring some holiday cheer to the community and help those in need at the same time.

Esquimalt’s Celebration of Lights committee wants to have a community-based Santa Claus parade on Sunday, Dec. 6, at 5 p.m.

The event has been in the planning stages with health and safety measures in mind, but new COVID-19 restrictions implemented this week may be a roadblock, preventing the parade from happening.

Organizers say this year’s Santa Claus parade would be scaled down in size and only decorated vehicles would be involved.

Another major change would be the route; this year, the parade would snake through neighbourhoods so a lot of people wouldn’t have to leave their homes to watch it.

‘We don’t want people lining the streets, per se, like it has in the past where it went down Esquimalt Road,” says Meagan Brame, an Esquimalt town councillor and member of the Celebration of Lights organizing committee.

“This trail is wandering and meandering more through the community so people can stand out here or sit in their car in a parking lot that we drive by and watch it. So, that’s the hope.”

The Esquimalt councillor stresses that the parade would be for people living in that community only, hoping that it could be livestreamed online so others around the the region could enjoy it as well from their own homes, safely.

“I think people need something to look forward to,” says Brame. “We want to try to bring some light to an otherwise dark and dreary Christmas season this year.”

Others celebrations like the Victoria Santa Claus parade and truck light parade have already been cancelled, but the societies that put on those events are teaming up this year with the Celebration of Lights committee to put on a toy and food drive in Esquimalt.

New, unwrapped toys for kids of various ages are needed and non-perishable food collected will go to the Rainbow Kitchen Society, which provides free meals and support to those in need.

The toy and food drive will take place behind Esquimalt’s Archie Browning Sports Centre on Sunday, Dec. 6, from 1:30 p.m. until 4 p.m., the same day as the parade, should it go ahead.

Brame says the groups will be using a “contactless system” for the charity event, in which people can pull up in their cars and volunteers will remove toys and food from the backs of their vehicles without them having to get out.

People are requested to wear masks while dropping off their food and toys.

All items will be quarantined for a period of time after being dropped off.

“We’re hoping people can help brighten up the lives of other people within their community,” says Brame.

She says the municipality has seen an increased need from many people who have been hard hit by the pandemic, but feels the Esquimalt community is good at stepping up to help each other out.

A decision on the Santa Claus parade will come early next week. Municipal staff are going over the new COVID-19 restrictions with Island Health to determine if the event can go ahead safely.

“Fingers crossed it goes as we want it to go, but if not, there’s always next year,” says Brame.

For more information on the parade, visit the Celebration of Lights website.